Teachers have voiced worries about their workload amid claims some Fife schools are asking them to adjust SQA assessment material.
One teacher described the situation as a shambles, with colleagues still in the dark over what they should be doing as they prepare to enter the final term.
With exams cancelled for a second year because of Covid-19, pupils’ provisional results are to be submitted by their teachers to the Scottish Qualifications Authority by June 25.
But amid mounting anxiety among both students and their teachers, the local branch of the EIS teaching union has also warned against adding to members’ workload.
One teacher told us they had been instructed to alter assessment materials provided by the SQA.
They said: “This now means that each school will have a different assessment, which will mean that there is no consistency.
“In addition, the workload implications of trying to create these assessments is ridiculous given the amount of time left in the academic year.
“It is quickly becoming a shambles.”
The Fife branch of the EIS raised the issue with Fife Council before schools closed for the Easter holidays last Friday.
The fact that we have these very, very short timescales puts a lot of pressure on everybody, most of all our students.”
David Farmer, EIS Fife
Spokesman David Farmer said: “The fact that we have these very, very short timescales puts a lot of pressure on everybody, most of all our students.
“Our members will be working as hard as they can to make sure the students get the best opportunity they can to excel.”
Assessment materials provided by the SQA as part of its alternative certification model take into account the parameters of courses and the skillsets and progress of individual pupils, he said.
“Our question would be ‘why would you want to move away from that?
“We know that this hasn’t happened in all secondary schools but we are conscious it has happened in some schools.”
He added: “We will be advising our members as soon as we get back [from holidays] that we don’t consider it appropriate that their workload, which is going to be pretty stretched anyway, should be increased because of decisions made in individual schools about adjusting individual assessments.”
Question papers and bespoke assessments
Question papers and marking instructions for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses are available from the SQA, which teachers can use for assessments to gather evidence of provisional results.
However, the exams body has also produced guidance on how bespoke assessments can be created.
Fife Council head of education and children’s services, Maria Lloyd, said: “Teachers in Fife have worked above and beyond to support young people in their learning this term and we want them all to have a well-deserved break.
“The SQA advice for the alternative certification model is that ‘teachers and lecturers have the flexibility to collate assessment evidence in ways and at times that are appropriate to the needs of their learners’.
“Fife schools will be following this advice, and the work to decide on appropriate assessment tools, and to gather this evidence, will be done after the Easter holidays.
“We have arranged to meet with teaching trade unions then, to discuss any concerns they might have.”